Ginebra nears PBA Commissioner’s Cup title

Ginebra’s Jamie Malonzo goes for an alley-oop dunk off a perfect pass from teammate Scottie Thompson during the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals Game 5 at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday. (Photo by Rio Deluvio)

Barangay Ginebra wasted no chances as it shackled Bay Area’s remaining key players on its way to a convincing 101-91 victory in Game 5 of the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven championship series at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday night.

Taking a 3-2 series lead, the Gin Kings are now a win away from bagging their latest title. They go for the crown on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Already missing the services of its import, Andrew Nicholson, still recovering from an ankle injury, Bay Area also played without ace guard Glenn Yang.

Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee scores against Bay Area’s Zhu Songwei during the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals Game 5 at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday. (Photo by Rio Deluvio)

Yang twisted his ankle during the crucial stretch of Game 4 in a game where the Dragons survived the absence of Nicholson.

Without its main source of production and its best facilitator, Bay Area was hoping to get more production from Kobey Lam and Zhu Songwei, but Ginebra grounded the Dragons’ go-to-guys with an airtight defense.

Lam, who exploded for 30 points and hit eight three-point shots in Game 4, was scoreless in the first half while Zhu only had a lone field goal as the two best producers in the previous match had difficulty extricating from the defense of the Gin Kings.

With half of the job done, Barangay Ginebra went on a tear and displayed its balance firepower.

Justin Brownlee, who just notched his third Best Import award in the PBA, was steady all game long, so did newly-minted Best Player of the Conference honoree Scottie Thompson.

Brownlee finished with 37 points on 5-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc while Stanley Pringle came off the bench and hit 20 markers, including back-to-back treys in the final two minutes to quell the Dragons’ rally.

Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar posterized Bay Area’s Zhenh Qilong. (Photo by Rio Deluvio)

The rest of the team did a little bit of everything — from big men Japeth Aguilar and Christian Standhardinger to Pringle, who played the fireman’s role for the team as the Gin Kings survived a late uprising from the Dragons to the delight of the 21,823 fans that packed the Mall of Asia Arena.

It was the second most-watched game in the venue since Game 7 of the 2016 Philippine Cup championship match that saw San Miguel complete a “Beeracle” and become the first team in PBA history to climb back from a 0-3 deficit.

Ginebra has a chance to put its name in the history book by becoming the first team to beat a foreign squad in a championship game of the Asia’s pioneering professional league.

For Bay Area, it’s a great opportunity to reinsert the injured Nicholson, who had shown progress in his recovery.

In Game 4, he showed up with a walking boot, but appeared without it in Game 5 when he joined the squad on the bench.

Yang will also be a doubtful starter, but the Dragons are hoping their two best players will see action in the team’s win or go home situation.


The Scores:

GINEBRA (101) — Brownlee 37, Pringle 20, J.Aguilar 12, Tenorio 8, Malonzo 7, Thompson 7, Standhardinger 5, Pinto 3, Gray 2, Mariano 0.

BAY AREA (91) — Blankley 29, Lam 16, Zheng 15, Liu 10, Ewing 9, Song 5, Reid 2, Ju 2.

QUARTERS: 23-24, 54-43, 76-62, 101-91.

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